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Fanfic is rife with tropes and Memetic Mutation. Some plots are so embedded in the collective consciousness of netizens everywhere that no fandom is complete without them, despite general disdain for them — M Preg, for example, or Gender Bender — or even their relevance to the source material, e.g. Aliens Made Them Do It.

This trope comes in two general flavours:

  • One: Universal plots that are unusually popular within a particular fandom or pairing, for whatever reason.
  • Two: Plots which only work within a particular fandom or pairing and are incredibly common there.

As with everything to do with fanfiction, Sturgeon's Law applies.

Sailor Earth and The Ships Motor are subtropes. Compare Common Crossover.

Some works have so many:

Examples of Fandom Specific Plot include:

Anime & Manga

  • Princess Tutu ends on a bittersweet note, with Ahiru remaining a duck because it's her true self. Lots of fans were unhappy with that, and that means 90% of fanfiction out there for the series is Fakir turning her back into a girl with story-spinning.
  • There is an entire Fullmetal Alchemist fan community devoted to M Preg.
  • Inuyasha has a great amount of hurt/comfort with Rin as the sick person.
  • It's still a common belief that Fushigi Yuugi: Eikoden was a subtle Take That against the sheer amount of "Mary Sue is sucked into the book and becomes the new priestess" fics in the fandom.
    • "Hotohori angsts and regrets Nuriko's death and the feelings he never acknowledged" fics were a dime a dozen in the old days. Similar fics were common for Nakago/Soi and Nakago/Tomo.
    • A lot of Yui/Suboshi fics had Suboshi surviving or being revived/reincarnated into the modern world to be with Yui.
  • Most of the fanfiction for One Piece seem to have the same few plots over and over again:
    • A retelling of the canon story, but with a new OC added. Typically will follow The Stations of the Canon almost to a T and peter out sometime before the Alabasta arc.
    • A new generation of pirates story set X years after the death of Luffy, the 2nd Pirate King. Typically will solicit readers to submit their OCs to fill up positions on the crew and as rivals/enemies.
    • An OC from the real world gets pulled into the One Piece world and makes friends with the Straw Hats, Whitebeard or the Heart Pirates. Typically later falls in love with Luffy/Zoro, Ace, or Trafalgar Law.
    • Sanji/Luffy/Nami getting sick and Zoro taking care of him/her. Instead of, you know, the actual doctor, Chopper. And yes, it always seems to be Zoro.
  • Naruto has tons of Peggy Sue fics. Those who usually end up going back are the members of Team 7 (including Kakashi) and Shikamaru, sometimes individually, sometimes together.
    • A lot of fics in which the genin teams are different, either because someone else is teaching Team 7 or someone else wanted Naruto, which shuffled the teams around (these fics are most often Naruto/Hinata).
    • The (in)famous "Clan Restoration Act", where one male character is forced to pair up with multiple women to revive his clan.
    • Also, there are multiple fics where Naruto gains an awesome power and virtually every girl except (in most cases) Sakura, usually fall for him that includes his mother, Tsunade and girls he never met like Yugito and Fu.
    • Nearly every story starts with Naruto being hated and attacked by the citizens of Konoha and the Third doing absolutely nothing about it.
    • Also there are many fics that deal with Naruto bringing back Sasuke, only to be betrayed by Sakura and later get exiled/executed.
    • Twelve-plus young characters of the same age, with a variety of personalities? Let's put them in high school!
    • Another really common one is the non-massacre AU, usually used as an excuse to pair Itachi and Sakura up.
    • Many Neji/Tenten fanfics where Neji is Tenten's Lost Lenore popped up after he was killed by Obito.
    • Taking an important scene where someone either almost died or had a Disney Death and having them actually die (Sasuke getting killed by Haku in the Land of Waves, Hinata dying from her injuries during the Akatsuki attack on Konoha, etc).
  • The future arc means that the Katekyo Hitman Reborn Kink Meme is filled with age specific pairing fics such as TYL!(10 Years Later)Xanxus with 14!Squalo. Kinda justified with the Adults!Acrobalenos if you want to avoid the Squick.
  • In Love Hina fandom it's not unusual to find a fic in which Su permanently changes into her older form to become a viable love interest for Keitaro.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfiction the Peggy Sue fic is extremely common, the most well-known being the doujin RE-TAKE (which, in a suitably Eva way, is actually a subversion). There are fics out there that set up a For Want of a Nail situation, and then reveal that either the changes were actually caused by a Peggy Sue, or that the events of the original series had happened before. There are also Crossover fanfics where this happens. It's reached the point where some fans think that Rebuild of Evangelion is one of these!
    • Post-Third Impact fic. This can range from Shinji and Asuka by themselves in a wasteland, to everyone coming Back From the Dead and the world returned to (mostly) normal. Most of the time, Rei has vanished and Toji gets his leg back (both of which might be supported by canon).
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Fix Fic in which Kamina and/or Nia aren't dead is incredibly common. Justifications tend to be that the series is based on punching physics in the face via sheer manliness anyway, so why not?
  • Zero no Tsukaima's basic premise, summoning a familiar from elsewhere, allows for almost anything to replace Saito in a crossover. The Hill of Swords has given the phenomenon some new life, but time will tell how long the trend will last.
  • In the Shugo Chara fandom, a LOT of fan fics are "Ikuto is the school playboy and has kissed every girl in the school, until the new girl Amu arrives and resists his romantic advances, will they fall in love or not?" and they also usually are roommates. Thankfully, this kind of story eventually lost its popularity and a lot of deconstructions were written.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia fandom is full of works regarding current and past politics and unions. This is (obviously) pretty much only feasible in this continuity, considering that the show is about personified countries.
    • The "Letters" trend: characters answering fan-mail being sent to them (via reviews by readers). The strange thing about this is the fact that A) these typically don't require/have an actual plot, and B) interactive fanfic is actually against the rules on, but they manage to make up a VERY prevalent chunk of the APH category there. Occasionally Did Not Do the Research shows up, since some feature countries/cities/places that the authors do not hail from/have been to.
    • An APH fanfic writer's motto could practically be "If you look hard enough, any pairing can be historical." And it's generally true.
    • The APH fandom is infamous for its Mpreg. Any geographic or administrative region could potentially have its own personification, and for some fanfic writers, there's no better way to Hand Wave in an OC than by having two characters go to town. America tends to get this treatment most often, but search in the right place and you will find Mpreg for any and every Hetalian.
    • AU fanfics with the characters rewritten as ordinary people instead of countries are especially common, since they allow the author to write certain pairings/situations without any of the political/historical stickiness.
  • A good 95 percent of The Cat Returns fanfiction has Haru remaining in/returning to the Cat Kingdom, becoming a cat, and marrying Baron, Completely Missing the Point of the original film. More often than not, these stories will pay little regard to Haru's single mother with no other children who is now alone in the world.
  • In Dragon Ball Z fanfics centered around Gohan like to feature him in high school, where Videl tries to expose him as Saiyaman, and, through a bunch of events that never happen in canon, falls for him.
    • It is common to see Bulma/Vegeta stories that expand upon the events at Capsule Corp during the three year Time Skip before the Red Ribbon Androids' arrival, in an attempt to pace and/or explain the circumstances of Trunks' eventual conception. Frequent tropes involved within these are the Florence Nightingale Effect, Angel Devil Shipping, Opposites Attract, and a good bit of Break the Haughty. Most humor is often gathered from the grumpy Proud Warrior Race Guy Vegeta's Fish Out of Water and Alien Among Us experiences.
    • Due to Vegeta's Heel Face Turn, it's a popular idea for fan fics to have to allow other villains to do the same, sometimes in his place. Raditz and Nappa are popular choices due to them commonly being seen as underdeveloped compared to Vegeta. Broly is also a surprisingly popular choice since him being a Flat Character is regarded as wasted as a character with a potentially sympathetic backstory. Hilariously this would actually be done later when Broly was made canon.
  • In Fruits Basket fandom there's the 'wolf of the zodiac' story. A new animal (usually a wolf, cheetah or other 'cool' animal) is added to the Eastern Zodiac. This is almost always a girl.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! fandom, a huge amount of Kaiba/Jounouchi fanfiction seems to be about how the mighty Kaiba rescues poor, defenceless Jonouchi from his abusive father, often finding him beaten half to death in a dark alley. He then offers him to live with him "temporarily". You can probably imagine how this one ends. Expect Jounouchi's True Companions to be suspiciously absent.
    • It's rather popular to bring Atem back from the dead (explained or not) for shipping purposes. Generally with Yuugi, but other examples do exist.
  • A common plot in K-On! ero-Doujinshi is one or more band members having sex in the club room, and somebody else spying and/or walking in on them. Western fanfics frequently use the following plots:
    • The school becomes co-ed so that a male Author Avatar can join the cast.
    • Ritsu becoming sexually irresistible when she takes her headband off.
    • One or more characters' parents disapproves of them being lesbians (nobody seems to want to write a scene that actually depicts the characters coming out to disapproving parents: it either happens offscreen, in backstory, or the fic dies before getting to that point).
  • Sorcerer Hunters fandom was fond of the following plots in its glory days:
    • Tira gets her heart broken by Carrot choosing her sister or chasing other girls. Marron comforts her and they fall in love.
    • Marron and Gateau have feelings for each other, but Carrot's disapproval stands in the way.
    • Marron has feelings for Carrot. Whether they remain unrequited or not depends not on whether or not the author likes incest ships, but how much they want to work the angst factor.
    • Chocolat or Marron pining for Carrot after he marries Tira in the manga.
    • Death fics, usually involving Marron being the one to bite it for whatever reason.


  • Spider-Man has One More Day Fix Fic (usually involving either Peter or MJ fighting off Mesphito in an Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate destiny). Fics where MJ gets powers (usually Spider related) are fairly common too.
  • Spider-Man, or really any comic book character, Ultimate Universe-style retellings of the series.


  • Labyrinth fic tends to have a few main flavors: A) Sarah will get wished away by Toby/her parents/her roommate/ect. putting her in Jareth's clutches or running the Labyrinth again. B) Jareth with get all possessive and try to whisk Sarah away as his 'bride'. C) Either Jareth or Sarah is in Big Trouble and the other has to help him/her out. Romance Ensues from all these 99% of the time, & they are handled with varying degrees of subtlety.
  • The Hangover fics have a very high tendency to have a previously unmentioned sister or female cousin of one of the four guys (usually Doug) join up with them and get involved involved with Alan, or more rarely Stu or Phil.
  • In fanfic for Star Trek XI, the idea that Kirk received some of Spock Prime's memories of his friendship (or "friendship") with Kirk Prime during the mindmeld on Delta Vega is particularly common — especially among Kirk/Spock shippers.
  • Fanfiction for The Incredibles is inordinately full of stories where Syndrome returns, kidnaps Violet (her specifically, instead of Jack Jack like he pledged he would) in order to get his revenge, only for the two to fall in love with each other with either Syndrome turning good or Violet turning evil.
  • Tron fanficcers: Admit it, we've all got our own guesses about what happens to the title character after his involuntary dunk in the Sea of Simulation.
  • The Disney's Hercules fanfiction community has stories introducing Persephone, the Goddess of Spring and the traditional Queen of the Underworld, into what is most often a sequel to the movie. She and Hades always get their mythology canon Happily Married status by the end. The Trope Codifier for most of these was probably Hope Springs Eternal.
    • Given that it is already The Theme Park Version of Greek Mythology, certain parts of the story considered “unsavory” to modern palates (such as Persephone being both Hades’ niece, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and a teenager) are reworked or ignored according to the wishes of the author.
    • And the whole “abduction and marriage” situation is either turned into more of a mutual decision between the two, for Persephone to escape her My Beloved Smother, or kept intact and made to work with the movie’s interpretation of Hades as a suave villain full of schemes.
    • Persephone herself, though stuck in a couple of background scenes for the movie (pink-skinned, blonde curls, huge petal hat), is nearly always given original looks and personality depending on what the author wants to see or feels fits with Hades’ already established character.


  • The Sherlock Holmes fandom is peculiarly fond of giving the detective hypothermia.
  • The Dresden Files fandom is really into Gender Bender, particularly of Harry, in an attempt to offset (or at least explore) his sexist tendencies.
    • Another massive trend is the Sex Kitten Winter Knight!Harry, taking place in some amorphous time after Harry's become the Winter Knight. They, similarly, offset or explore Harry's canon attitudes on sex (I.E., not having sex with a new partner while still trying to save an old one, not having sex with monsters trying to eat or manipulate you, and not having sex with minors), which the fandom often spins as repressed or even misogynistic. Sense a trend here?
  • The Maximum Ride fandom seems to really like High School AU stories. Understandable, considering what they have to go through on a constant basis in canon, not understandable in that the one time they actually DID go to school, it didn't end well for them.
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians: Half-blood goes to camp. Half-blood gets amazing powers. Half-blood saves world. Simmer for five minutes. Serves thousands.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: the Baudelaires are sent to live with a new guardian, usually an Original Character, although crossovers exist.
  • Writers for The Silmarillion, specifically Maedhros/Fingon shippers, are practically obligated to write hurt/comfort fic based on Fingon's rescue of Maedhros from Thangorodrim. In all fairness, it's pretty much the last moment in the book for them which isn't utterly tragic.
  • If you happen to be a fanfic writer for Children of Hurin, it's almost obligatory to compose a Beleg/Turin hurt/comfort fic at some point in your career. Somewhat Justified, though, with canon lines like this one:

 Then at the egging of Androg they left Beleg tied to a tree without food or water... but he said no more to them. When two days and nights had passed in this way they had grown angry and fearful, and most were now ready to slay the Elf. As night drew down they were all gathered about him, and Ulrad brought a brand... but at that moment Turin returned... and he saw the haggard face of Beleg in the light of the brand. Then he was stricken as with a shaft, and tears long unshed filled his eyes... "Beleg, Beleg!", he cried... at once he cut the bonds from his friend, and Beleg fell forward into his arms... At first he gave heed only to Beleg, and tended him with what skill he had.

  • The Lord of the Rings, because it's more accessible than the above, has far too many Tenth Walker fics, to the point that they were already being parodied almost a decade ago.
    • Also, fics featuring Faramir or Legolas being abused by their respective fathers are ridiculously common.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Nathaniel comes back to life and/or is in love with Bartimaeus a lot.
  • Good Omens: Poor Crowley gets mistaken for an incubus quite often in fic.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe fics where Grand Admiral Thrawn manages to survive his Bodyguard Betrayal are very common.
  • Fics with characters from another fandom put in Lyra's world of the His Dark Materials trilogy, not necessarily involving any characters from the trilogy, so that the author can demonstrate what shapes they think the characters' daemons would be, overlooking the fact that traveling to that dimension will not necessarily cause your daemon to manifest, but being born there will, so it only works as a whole-cloth Alternate Universe. Not the same as Common Crossover, because any fandom can be plugged into this scenario.
  • Roughly 50% of Narnia fanfiction that doesn't feature a Mary Sue will tackle the so-called "Problem of Susan," either making her out to be The Woobie that got screwed over by Aslan and everyone else, or having her whole family killed in a train crash causes her to realize the Error of Her Ways.
  • Tamora Pierce fandom has produced a truly astonishing number of Alanna-goes-to-the-convent fics (in canon, Alanna hated the idea of going to the convent so much that she disguised herself as a boy and learnt how to be a knight instead). Their main purpose seems to be to get her together with Prince Jon, who she dumped in canon.
  • The Hunger Games has an awful lot of 'Random OC who may or may not be a Mary Sue ends up getting reaped'. Some better writers will play with this by not having the character actually win, but as there are only two possible plot permutations the entire thing ends up horrifically overused.
    • And of course there's plenty of Alternate Universe Fics that ask "What if Rue/Thresh/Cato/Clove/Foxface/Marvel/Glimmer/Boy From District 7/etc. had won?" and explore the rest of the trilogy from that character's point of view (or take the events post 74th Hunger Games in a completely different direction).
  • A lot of Darkest Powers fanfiction features werewolf Derek and necromancer Chloe realizing that they are mates. In canon, the only mention of them being mates was made by Liam, who was taunting them. Also, in the main series, the werewolves do have mates... but it's nothing as huge, compelling, or life-changing as it's often made out to be in the DP fanfics. Rather, the only time it's treated as a somewhat big thing is in Personal Demon, when Karl attempts to explain to Hope that the reason he left her is because he was terrified by how completely attracted to her he was (and still is).
  • Warrior Cats: A Clan kit has a prophecy about them. They get apprenticed. They end up fulfilling the prophecy and often become Clan leader at some point.
  • Here's the plot of a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine stories: An evil super-engine arrives on Sodor and tries to enforce a tyrannical rule over the island and dominance for his breed. Thomas and co are pushed to their limits to shove this super-engine out of the picture. Sounds a lot like Thomas and the Magic Raliroad, right?

Live Action TV

  • Fic dealing with Don't Ask, Don't Tell is common in Stargate Verse slash, though there are a few other fandoms where it's possible.
    • And fics dealing with the military's policy against fraternization are also common on the straight side of things, such as Jack/Carter fics.
  • For the Glee fandom, Blaine-centric stories that transplant the characters to a Film Noir setting are common. Blaine is overwhelmingly the sharp-dressed, jaded Private Detective, the New Directions and the Cheerios are rival nightclubs, and Kurt will either be the person seeking help or connected to them in some way. The Kurt/Blaine fics often end very badly. It's hard to tell how much of it is just faithfulness to the film-noir style, and how much is a reflection of real-life Values Dissonance.
    • The badboy!Klaine trend. Blaine or Kurt is Troubled but Cute, and the other is usually very close to their canon persona. Sometimes, especially when Blaine is the bad boy, Dalton is some sort of reform school.
    • A good number of Kurt/Blaine fic reference or incorporate "Baby It's Cold Outside", even before the actual duet was released.
    • An interesting trend is several stories where Rory and Sugar sleep together, and she becomes pregnant shortly before he returns to Ireland.
    • Many future fics involve characters performing together on Broadway. This is particularly common with Rachel/Jesse fics.
    • Sugar, Rory, and Harmony being the children of Brittana, Klaine, and Finchel or Faberry (respectively) travelling back in time to visit their parents. Occasionally they also include Sebastian as the son of Kurtofsky.
    • Many Sam/Rory fics take place either during Christmas (when the ship was first introduced) or Valentine's day (in the Christmas episode Sam promised to be Rory's sponsor and help him get a girlfriend for valentine's day).
  • Odds are, any White Collar fic will either have some sort of Ho Yay between Peter and Neal or at least some Neal whumpage. Based on these, it's hard to believe Neal can cross the street without a) breaking something b) getting kidnapped or c) getting some sort of disease of illness that requires Peter and Elizabeth take care of him.
  • Back in 2005/2006, probably a good fifth of all Criminal Minds fic involved Reid being kidnapped and tortured. It was so common that people wrote parodies of it. Then the show itself used that plot, and it became less popular in fanfiction.
  • Heroes Mohinder/Sylar fans have The Road Trip. It's amazing how much fic there is set in those, what? Three days? Of course, give the nature of their relationship, if they ever secretly had sex, that's when they did it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The (in)famous Yet Another Halloween Fic sub-genre of fanfiction, in which Xander (and possibly other characters) choose a different outfit for the fateful Halloween when Ethan Rayne turned everyone into their costumes. Invariably, these will be the costumes of recognizable characters, particularly from anime.
    • What might be termed the "Slayer Speculation Fic", in which the famous, strong female character of the author's choice from another fandom is called as a Slayer by Willow's spell in the series finale.
    • A number of stories portray Xander as still having the essence of the hyena spirit inside of him. It seems to often draw him to Oz or Spike, one being a werewolf, the other being a dominant predator.
    • There are three standard Willow/Tara plots:
    • Buffy and Firefly is such a Common Crossover that such stories have their own tropes. For example:
      • Book is (or was) a Watcher.
      • River is a Slayer, and the Academy was a corrupt version of the Watcher's Council. (Well, more corrupt than usual.)
      • Rarely will more than one or two of the Scooby Gang feature, and it's usually Xander or Willow transported to the future/an alternate dimension via magical portal or suspended animation.
      • Xander is an enormous Badass, since he only has normal humans to fight, and has spent his life surviving against creatures at least twice as fast and strong as he is.
      • Mal will be mistaken for Caleb. Zoe and Jayne's resemblance to Jasmine and Hamilton may also be brought up, but this occurs less frequently.
    • Rewrites of season 1-4 episodes to include Dawn, or specifically the altered memories of the cast that include Dawn.
  • The "Skinner finds out about Mulder's and Scully's relationship" stories in The X-Files fandom. (Which is kind of odd, considering he dropped hints several times in the last two seasons that he already knew about their relationship. Then again, so did everyone else...)
  • If you write for How I Met Your Mother and you like Barney/Robin, you have written an episode tag to "Benefits" and/or "Sandcastles in the Sand".
  • Power Rangers stories that feature Tommy post-Zeo have two options: tackle the reason for the infamous Dear John letter that caused Tommy and Kimberly to break up, or completely ignore it. Fans have since gotten very tired of new stories that choose to tackle it, to the extent that even season 12, Dino Thunder, which brought Tommy back as an active Ranger, completely ignored his romantic past. Stories that feature Kimberly have no choice but to tackle it, unfortunately.
    • An equally captivating problem for the fans is that of Tommy and Kat, as a Flash Forward episode outright shows them as eventually marrying, which makes the lack of any mention of her and of any implication of Tommy's romantic life from Dino Thunder a complicated issue for 'ficcers to address, as most take the earlier episode as gospel truth.
  • A subset of Charmed fanfics are known as "Chris revelation fics", which alter how his true identity is revealed, invariably in ways which increase the drama and/or angst level compared to canon. "Almost obligatory" for a writer in the fandom to have written such a story.
    • There's a related subset, often the same fic or a sequel to one of the above, which allows Chris to in some way survive the end of the sixth season.
  • If you're a House fan who likes House/Wilson and Dark!Wilson, it's almost obligatory for you to write a post-Wilson's Heart fic where Wilson loses it after Amber's death and takes it out on House, who is either so brain-damaged or so guilty that he doesn't fight back.
  • With Jeeves and Wooster being such an innocent series, there's a good handful of fics involving Bertie discovering the concept of sexuality.
  • Supernatural: Dean and/or Sam is turned into some kind of monster; one of them isn't a Winchester, so they can be paired safely; a character from another fandom turns out to be their sibling; female equivalents to both brothers are introduced; Dean is also one of the special children.
    • A demon summoning calls forth a character from another fandom who does not behave the way demons in Supernatural usually do. Ex: An attempt to summon "the Morning Star" results in Dawn appearing, dressed up like The Devil for a Halloween party. Or cultists call upon "the Yellow-Eyed Demon" and get Crowley.
    • One of the Winchester brothers gets turned into a dog, usually Sam.
    • If you ship Dean/Castiel and are willing to write a sex scene, you've written a fic set after 'Free to be You and Me'.
  • Top Gear crack fanon considers the Stig an alien with Reality Warper powers. This means that "The Stig did it" is an incredibly common explanation for wackiness in crackfic. Sometimes Top Gear Dog or May's cat gets the blame.
  • For some reason, any Star Trek: The Original Series Kirk/Spock author worth their salt has written a, if not several, fic(s) featuring the duo in a cave. The "Kirk and Spock are in a shuttlecraft together, it crashes on a godforsaken planet, they hide in a cave, and Spock goes into Pon Farr" plot has even become a Dead Horse Trope in the fandom, parodied by Genre Savvy fans with the "rude person" meme.
    • Kirk/Spock fics set immediately after "Amok Time" are extremely common, using the idea that the shock of "killing" Kirk didn't stop Spock's pon farr so much as postpone it. And now that he doesn't have a wife to mate with...
    • The Mary Sue plot. At one time, the term "Mary Sue story" referred to the specific plot parodied by A Trekkies Tale. This plot was once very common, but is now largely forgotten. The character in the story would be recognized as a Mary Sue by modern standards, but it's much more formulaic and Trek-centric. The 1992 book Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth defines it as follows:

 Mary Sue is the youngest officer ever to serve on the starship Enterprise. She is a teenager, tall and slim, with clear skin and straight teeth. If she is not blond, Mary Sue is half Vulcan, her ears delicately pointed. But Mary Sue is not just another pretty face. She is usually highly educated, with degrees from universities throughout the known universe in all fields of technical and cultural studies (or an equivalent head of her class in Starfleet Academy). She can mend the Enterprise with a hairpin, save the lives of the crew through wit, courage, and, occasionally, the sacrifice of her virtue. If the formula is strictly followed. Lieutenant Mary Sue dies in the last paragraph of the story, leaving behind a grieving but safe crew and ship.


Video Games

  • Gears of War fandom has a few very predictable plots that closely resemble the following: Girl (almost always a Mary Sue or a Jerk Sue, but always a Tsundere) joins Delta Squad. It turns out she's usually like either an awesome stranded badass or the greatest sniper ever in 70% in cases (the other 30%, she's just a random woman who turns badass the moment she starts tagging along with Baird). Then, she falls in love with Baird, have a brief Slap Slap Kiss relationship buildup (sometimes literally), and then ultimately Baird falls in love with her and they have sex.
  • It's a running joke in Metal Gear fandom that everyone has to write at least one "Tankerfic" — a fic about the alluded-to-but-never-elaborated-upon scene in Metal Gear Solid 2 where Otacon pulls Snake out of a shipwreck in the middle of a raging storm.
  • ARF (Aeris/Aerith Resurrection Fic) for Final Fantasy VII.
  • The Mega Man X fandom contains a ton of stories about Dr. Cain completing one final case before either retiring or dying.
  • Mass Effect fandom has quite a few variations of Samara's loyalty mission since the second game came out, but the chief plot of such stories is either 'the love interest voices disapproval with Shepard being the bait' or another character entirely -usually one of the other squaddies- takes Shepard's place instead. Both styles of this plot are commonly seen with the Female Shepard/Male Love Interest combo.
    • A fairly common plot is Shepard having a brother or sister that either joins the group or takes over when the in-game Shepard dies in a battle somehow, despite one background explicitly saying Shepard is an only child and the other two saying that Shepard's entire immediate family is dead.
  • One type of story that has gained some traction in Dragon Age fandom is having one or more of the other origins meet up with the Warden character and in some instances, have them join the group. (example: a Dwarven Commoner meets a Human Noble and the dwarf joins The Warden, Alistair, Morrigan and the gang) They may or may not be Grey Wardens.
    • For most of the Origins, there is the annoying issue that Duncan saved the potential Grey Warden from certain or nearly certain death, rendering their mutual presence problematic from a canon point of view.
    • Unsurprisingly, Dragon Age also has lots of Dark Ritual fics and fanart, usually with Alistair as the, uh, second participant and Female!Warden and/or him agonizing over the decision. These range from pure angst to smutty hatesex to conflicted tender lovin' to humiliating performance problems to big happy threesomes. One Big Name Fan fancomic artist, Aimo, even collaborated with the game's head writer on a comic based on a deleted scene where Morrigan herself agonizes about it beforehand.
  • Tales of Symphonia has quite a few fanfics in which Lloyd has a twin sibling — usually a female who, at least initially, serves Cruxis. Cruxis!Lloyd fics are also popular, most starting with Kratos finding Lloyd and returning to Cruxis with him.
  • A common theme for Dimentio/Mimi from Super Paper Mario is him stealing her diary and using the contents to tease her. However, it should be noted that this does stem from a canon incident.
    • Similarly, a fairly large amount of Bowser/Peach fanworks center around the popular question of just what the heck do they get up to while Mario's busy adventuring to rescue her from Bowser's clutches. Or, many also portray Peach as taking a motherly role towards Bowser's eight unruly children. However, this once again is based off of a canon incident (that of Bowser Junior being convinced that she's his mom and even calling her "Mama Peach"). It's actually unknown just how the seven older Koopalings feel about Peach, but the image of them looking up to her as their mom is cute nonetheless.
  • Touhou has innumerable doujins/fanfics detailing the Backstory of the characters, since not many characters have one to begin with, and even if they do it's still pretty vague. By far the two most common recipients are Rumia (so popular that any fan refering to "EX-Rumia" is immediately understood) and Sakuya (serial killer, former monster hunter, or Lunarian being the three main theories).
    • Explaining what happened to the PC-98 characters, especially Mima, is similarly widespread.
    • Detailing the future of characters is also common, as amongst the incredibly long-lived youkai there are a few humans that will die relatively soon. Reimu, Marisa and especially Sakuya (again) are the targets, though Sanae became increasingly popular after her arrival.
    • There is a sub-genre in Touhou fandom that can be called "Outsider fic", with someone (either a character from another fandom, an original character or a self-insert) falling into Gensoukyou and meeting various characters, either amicably or otherwise. Notably, this is entirely plausible, as the barrier that seals Gensoukyou in its own reality is nowhere near as impermeable as it should be (and some of the "accidents" might actually be deliberate abductions).
    • The (mis)adventures of Team 9, an entirely fan-made Cast Herd consisting of child-like "low level" youkai, seems to be required for every significant story, even if only as a background detail. Indeed, the Non Indicative First Chapter of Imperfect Metamorphosis, and ultimately the entire story, is based around them.
  • A large amount of non-shipping Pokémon fics follow this basic formula: Original Character gets a starter Pokémon from the regional professor, which is usually not one of the normal starters since they've all been taken. Original character encounters whatever villain team appears in the region, or either Team Rocket or Cipher if it's a non-game region. Original character defeats 8 gyms. Original character participates in the Pokémon League, usually winning.
    • As a subtrope of both this and After Action Report, the Nuzlocke Comics based stories are a genre unto themselves. It is basically the same as the situation outlined above, except you are actually recording your playthrough of the game, you are restricted in the pokemon you can catch, and Anyone Can Die is in full effect.
  • In The Sims fandom, it's incredibly common for a "Backstory" type fic to be about Pleasantview and how Bella Goth disappeared. It will involve aliens, because the memory that Bella's husband Mortimer and daughter Cassandra have is that she was abducted by aliens. It also is common for it to involve Dina and Nina Caliente, because they arrived the day before Bella disappeared, and because Dina's late husband is Bella's brother. Another common plotline will be to tie Strangetown in somehow, because of the townie in Strangetown that is named Bella Goth. The one neighborhood that consistently is ignored is Veronaville.
  • A lot of Portal fanfic written after Portal 2 involved Wheatley returning from space or Chell returning to Aperture, even though both are a no-go in the canon.
    • GLaDOS or Wheatley being transferred to android or human bodies for whatever reason — or just making them human and not even bothering with the transfer. This in turn created its own sub-set, with one or both of them being originally human to better facilitate the transfer (note that this is at least partially true for GLaDOS).
  • If one is to write a Super Robot Wars Fanfic, the usual standard story will do the following: Write a prologue in the style used by the games (with a list of "Series Represented" almost always included), then the plot will basically proceed with the novelized version of the same type of mecha anime crossover story writing style endemic to the games.


  • Homestuck fandom has the popular "bloodswap", an Alternate Universe What If fic where the alien trolls have different blood colors than they do in canon — blood color being used to determine their place in the Fantastic Caste System and what Psychic Powers they get (if any). The most well-known bloodswap fic is Red Dead Virgo. A few other fanfics (including RDV) do something similar with the human characters where they are raised by different people than they were in canon.
    • Perhaps the most common form of fanfic for Homestuck (or at least the most common fan-adventure), are the ones in which a completely new group of players (human or troll) plays Sburb. A Sburb session is a ready-made framework for a story and canon that the main characters weren't the only humans to start a session (though it's strongly implied that all other human sessions should be doomed to failure and Word of God has declared that the trolls were the only session for their species). Only very rarely does someone actually bother to invent their own race of aliens, despite that being far more likely canonically, and not everyone succeeds in putting a big enough spin on the premise to make it worthwhile.
    • Life after The Scratch is another big one. These generally revolve around the characters remembering or trying to remember their past or alternate lives. In many stoires the trolls are turned human somehow.
    • Fake FA Qs for Sburb, based off Rose's FAQ in canon. Originally, many of these fics treated Sburb and the events of Homestuck as a fictional video game that people were writing strategy guides for. Fake FAQ fics then went dormant until they were revived by the story Sburb Glitch FAQ, which eventually started a Fan Verse.

Western Animation

  • An awful lot of Total Drama Island fics crop up that depict a second season at Camp Wawanakwa using Original Characters for the new cast of campers. Sometimes some mixture of OCs and originals are used.
    • Crossovers are fairly common, pulling in characters from other works as contestants.
    • A common theme of Whole Plot References developed, the majority of which involve Twilight (usually using Gwen and Trent or Courtney and Duncan as Bella and Edward, respectively, then later with Gwen and Duncan filling the roll).
    • A lot of fanfics are about a season where reviewers can apply for a spot on the show.
  • Phineas and Ferb has a lot of stories where Perry somehow becomes a human, and oh, it also turns out he and Dr. Doofenshmirtz are both gay. Often Dr. D is the one who transforms him in the first place, though usually for ostensibly different reasons.
    • It's common to speculate about the boys' respective missing biological parents. This contains a whole subgenre where Doofenshmirtz turns out to be Phineas's father, with various back stories trying to fit this into canon.
    • A lot of fanfics put the kids in school. Since the creators have stated that the series will only cover time off from school, there seems to be a general fandom curiosity as to what school is like for the characters.
    • At the end of Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension Isabella kisses Phineas on the lips just before they're hit with an amnesia ray. This has become a convenient plot device for a lot of ship fic writers. The most common variation is that Phineas or/and Isabella remembers the kiss somehow (very often, the memory returns to them in a dream), and decides to act on it. Another variation is that Phineas gets Carl to stop long enough for him or Isabella to write down a message to themselves.
  • In the Teen Titans fandom, it's extremely common to see a fic where:
    • Batman or Batgirl comes from Gotham to entrust or request something from Robin
    • Beast Boy turns back into his form from "The Beast Within"
    • Raven's long-lost demonic sibling appears
    • Any and all variations of the High School AU (at least their ages don't need to be changed).
  • Hey Arnold fic-writers tend to be fond of the "character leaves town for years, only to return much later to the neighborhood and reintroduce their newly mature selves to their old friends". Despite Arnold actually having a ground semi-speculator semi-canon reason for doing this, this kind of thing usually stars Helga, who always comes back more attractive and more mature, so as to sweep Arnold off his feet.
    • The Jungle Movie, an abandoned Big Damn Movie project where Arnold sets out to find his lost parents in Central America. Not only would this movie result in him finding his parents, but he was also supposed to get a Relationship Upgrade with Helga. Naturally, a lot of fans were anxious to see this project come into realisation, and have made their own versions.
  • Treasure Planet fanfics seem inordinately fond of direct retellings of the movie, except this time there's a plucky female recruit/stowaway/cabin girl who's a Kindred Spirit to Jim and thus can fall in love with him over the course of the story, if she isn't his sister instead. If not a direct retelling, there are also fics where Jim goes on a voyage that is essentially the same as the voyage to treasure planet, accompanied by a female stowaway who is either essentially Jim's personality from the movie (while Jim can play Older and Wiser) or your average Tsundere so she and Jim can have a Slap Slap Kiss romance.
  • The Land Before Time fandom seems to love the plot of dragging a kid from the present and befriending Littlefoot and the gang. In fact, any plot that falls anywhere on the Speculative Fiction spectrum, with the fate of the world in Littlefoot and the gang's hands, is common.
  • Kick Buttowski shipping fics tend to start with Kick and Kendall agreeing to spend a whole day (or even a whole week) together because of a bet or a dare. Naturally, after some initial bickering, they realize they've fallen in love with each other.
  • Young Justice fics enjoy getting a lot of drama over Robin taking his sunglasses/mask off to whoever he's being shipped with.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has many common fic plots:
    • Among the regular flavors of Zutara: Katara being kidnapped by Zuko, Katara's season three hatred for Zuko revealing itself to be sexual attraction, Zuko siding with Team Avatar in the Crystal Catacombs, Mai dying in childbirth and Katara comforting Zuko, and Mai and/or Aang turning evil. Katara usually ends up as Zuko's queen in these stories (the flipside of this, Zuko renouncing his title and living at the South Pole with Katara, is rare).
    • Azula escaping from her mental institution to cause trouble. Alternatively, Azula recovering, and either relapsing or slowly becoming part of the Gaang.
    • The Dangerous Ladies, or just Azula herself, kidnapping or capturing Sokka, or they're stranded alone together in the wilderness, and they come to bond romantically.
    • If a fic set after the war isn't based around the gargantuan amount of reconstruction and peacekeeping required throughout the world, then it will casually mention it as if the reader should already know. Indeed, despite the series as a whole ultimately falling on the idealistic side of the sliding scale nearly every fan reaches the conclusion that no, it isn't going to be that easy.
  • The Fairly Odd Parents has a few fanfics about Norm the Genie falling in love with a female genie master Original Character who treats him right. Each of these have their own unique, slightly weird twist. One of them is a Deconstruction of Genie in a Bottle and perhaps several other tropes. Another has an OC that might be an Expy of Megara. Yet another is a Chobits Fusion Fic (with Product Placement). One is a limerick written by Norm the Genie about a Mary Sue named Rebekah Masters, who is Aladdin's sister, owns a keyblade, has many boyfriends (whatever fictional guys the author finds hot) and lives in the Kingdom Hearts world.
    • A lot of stories reflect on Cosmo and Wanda's failing relationship, as well as how they met and how their Anti-Fairy counterparts met. There are many fanfics about Anti-Poof's birth.
  • Kim Possible: Pretty much every Drakken/Shego writer has done a piece dealing with the fallout from "Emotion Sickness" (in which emotion-setting "Moodulators" become attached to Kim and Shego, and for most of the episode they're crazy with love for Ron and Drakken, respectively). So have a lot of Kim/Ron fans, of course, but to a lesser extent because they have considerably more canon to work with.
  • Two common plotlines in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers fandom are "Eliza's rescue" (at least 4 versions are floating around), and ones where the other three find out about the full extent of the dirty politics and hellish conditions at Wolf Den — usually in the form of some threat to Shane. Queue the Series 5 team making the guilty parties wish they were dealing with Supertroopers.
  • Jem fanfic will create Mockumentaries based on VH-1's Behind The Music, recapping the team's adventures. These range from playing it mostly straight to Deconstructive Parody.
  • Fans of the Mega Man cartoon show often have Protoman leave Wily, usually by him creating Bass as a replacement. And then Bass isn't seen from again.
  • Fanfiction for The Penguins of Madagascar often includes some method of 'fixing' Marlene's lapsing into a feral state whenever she leaves the zoo. This tends to go hand-in-hand with her finally learning that the penguins' adventures are real and joining the team, since her ability to participate in adventures would be severely limited otherwise.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot has a whole genre of stories about Jenny becoming human somehow, usually to facilitate a relationship with Brad. (Fans never seem to do this if they pair her with Sheldon, for some reason.)
  • Gargoyles fandom: What if Elisa Maza (or any other character) was definitely turned into a Gargoyle?
  • A great many Danny Phantom fics involve the return of Dark Danny. This is largely due to his immense popularity, the fact that he only appeared in the series once, and that supposedly he was going to return if the series wasn't Screwed by the Network. What he does when he returns varies from story to story: sometimes he gets shipped, other times he gets "redeemed," but he usually goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.